Saturday, December 3, 2016

More Navy Lies and Deceit

We’ve documented instance after instance where the Navy has flat out lied.  The lies cover a wide range of topics but the common theme is that they lie when the truth won’t get them what they want.  To be fair, I guess that’s kind of the reason for lying, in general. 

They lie about weapons performance, they lied about the USS Fort Worth’s Singapore deployment performance, they’ve lied repeatedly about their determination to early retire the Ticonderoga class cruisers, and so on. 

The latest lie is about the LCS shock testing that was recently performed on the USS Jackson and USS Milwaukee.  What did we read from the Navy?  The tests went very well – even better than expected.  Now we find out that the tests weren’t exactly what was described to us.  The shock tests were only partial shock tests conducted at a greatly reduced shock load.  The Navy neglected to mention that, didn’t they? 

I’m not going to debate anyone about what a lie is.  A lie of omission is still a lie.  Deceit is a lie.  The Navy omitted telling us that the shock tests were vastly scaled down.  The Navy deceived us into believing that the LCS was fully tested.

What really happened?  As ever, we have to depend on Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E) to tell us the truth.  Here’s the DOT&E comments as reported by USNI News website (1).

Note:  all emphasis added

“Full ship shock trials on both variants of the Littoral Combat Ship proved the ships are survivable and will only need “relatively minor modifications,” according to Navy written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, but the Pentagon’s top operational tester warned in his written testimony that the shocks were performed at reduced severity due to concerns about excessive damage to the ships.”

The tests were performed at reduced levels because the Navy knew the ships would be severely damaged by full testing.

Here’s the Navy’s lie.

“Stackley, [Sean Stackley, head of Navy acquisition] along with commander, Naval Surface Forces Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, wrote that “the LCS Program Office accomplished all FSST test objectives within budget, for both ship variants, demonstrating that the ships and ships’ systems are able to survive the degrading effects of an underwater shock event.” 

DOT&E’s assessment is a bit different.

“Gilmore’s [Director, DOT&E] written testimony tells a different story. He wrote that ahead of the trials he “approved the reduced severity trial geometries for LCS-6 because of serious concerns about the potential for damage to non-shock hardened mission critical equipment and ship structure.” He added that the Independence-variant aluminum hull could suffer more damage than a traditional steel hull, and that the combat system and main propulsion system on those ships were not hardened. “To further mitigate potential equipment damage and personnel injury, some mission systems were removed, other equipment was modified to improve shock resistance, and construction deficiencies were corrected,” he wrote.”

This statement reveals all kinds of things – things that I’ve stated over the years and now have unambiguous proof for.

We find out that the much of the LCS equipment is not shock-hardened.  Aside from having told you that for many years, this also puts the lie to the Navy’s attempt to claim that the LCS was built to some kind of Level 1+ survivability standard.  As demonstrated in a previous post, Level 1 explicitly calls for shock-hardening and now we have proof that the LCS is not shock-hardened and, therefore, does not even meet Level 1 survivability let alone some made-up Level 1+.  Here’s the relevant quote from OpNavInst 9070.1 which defines survivability levels.

“Level I represents the least severe environment anticipated and
excludes the need for enhanced survivability for designated ship
classes to sustain operations in the immediate area of an
engaged Battle Group or in the general war-at-sea region. In this category, the minimum design capability required shall, in
addition to the inherent sea keeping mission, provide for EMP
and shock hardening, …”

Lies!  Beyond shock hardening, the LCS is also not EMP shielded – again, a failure to meet even Level 1 standards.

We also see from the statement that some equipment was removed prior to testing.  I’ve been told that the 57 mm gun was removed, among other equipment.  In addition, some equipment was modified for the test in order to allow it to survive.  The Navy didn’t mention any of that, did they?

Moving on, what happened when stronger shocks were attempted on the Milwaukee?

“Gilmore directed the Navy to use stronger shocks for the Milwaukee test, with the third one reaching two-thirds the shock severity the ship is built to sustain.

“The Navy conducted the first two shots from August 29 through September 23, 2016, starting the trial at the same shock severity as other modern surface combatants. However, the Navy stopped the LCS 5 trial after the second shot, thereby not executing the planned third shot due to concerns with the shock environment, personnel, and equipment,” Gilmore wrote. “The Navy viewed the third LCS 5 trial as not worthwhile because the Navy was concerned shocking the ship at the increased level of that trial would significantly damage substantial amounts of non-hardened equipment, as well as damage, potentially significantly, the limited amount of hardened equipment, thereby necessitating costly and lengthy repairs.”

Gilmore’s summary assessment?

““Neither shock trial resulted in catastrophic damage, yet both shock trials exposed critical shock deficiencies, which I will detail in an upcoming classified report,” he concluded. “These deficiencies, which were only identified in the shock trial, can now be specifically addressed and corrected by Navy engineers to make the ships more survivable.”

The Navy flat out lied and deceived us into believing that the LCS was fully tested like any other warship.  Far from a success, the shock trials were an abysmal failure, apparently.

Now, here’s the really sad aspect of all this.  There was no need for the Navy to lie.  A reasonable case can be made that a small combatant does not need to be built to the same standards as a full-fledged warship.  It’s actually quite reasonable to expect a small vessel to be unable to withstand the same stresses as a full-fledged warship.  No one would object to such a conceptual design philosophy.  Of course, that leads to the question of whether a half billion dollar vessel the size of a WWII Fletcher should be considered “small” but that’s another issue.

This entire issue is due to the Navy’s attempt to portray the LCS as a warship.  They painted themselves into a corner.  They can’t, on the one hand, claim that the LCS is a warship and, on the other hand, not hold it to the standards of a warship.  By trying to deceive us into believing that the LCS is a warship they created the controversies over survivability and shock testing.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” – We all learned that as children but the Navy appears not to understand it.


(1)USNI News website, “Navy Says LCS Shock Trials Had Positive Results; Pentagon Still Has Concerns”, Megan Eckstein, 2-Dec-2016,


  1. Perhaps the vice-admiral should be temporarily appointed as an LCS commander in the Persian Gulf just off the Iranian coast. Perhaps then the importance of shock-testing might sink home.
    Very disappointing is that the Milwaukee is the steel hulled variant, which you would expect to handle stress better than the aluminum hulled variant.
    I sincerely hope the incoming administration's promise of a 350-ship navy doesn't includes the 55 fragile LCS units the admirals desire.

  2. I may have mentioned this in a previous post but I'll write it again. My son is a Midshipman at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. The students have the option of going active duty (any of the services but their are more Navy/Marine slots)or sailing as a civilian mariner on a US flagged vessel (MSC or private). He has thought about going active duty as a Surface Warfare Officer; while I would be proud to see him serve, I cannot in good conscience recommend this route to him. Not while the Navy buys ships which are not remotely survivable in a real Naval War. The cost of this epic level of corruption, incompetence, cowardice and careerism may be the lives of American sailors. In any case, this sends a signal to our potential opponents that we are not serious about maintaining a strong national defense. Integrating transgenders and homosexuals into our military, women into combat units and building weapon systems based not on combat effectiveness but on maximizing the post retirement income of certain Naval officers is not a recipe for deterring our enemies.

    1. Sadly, we are focused on seemingly everything except preparing for war. I do what I can via this blog.

  3. This is the kind of military you get when your officers are executives with business degrees instead of Sailors /Soldiers.
    Lying isn't really lying to them. It's called being "proactive".

    The first step to fixing procurement problems should be to ban anyone with a businesses degree from serving as an officer.

  4. This is just like the US Army Bradley testing back in the 1980's. What happened to the people charge back then? Oh they got promoted and got cushy Defense Contractor jobs. I will say one thing for the Navy Brass they can learn when they see someone else get away with it.

    More disturbing, the message that EVERYOHNE heard was LCS passed shock testing. Just like Goebbels taught the world, if you say it enough everyone starts to believe it.

    Stackley is another ring knocking failure, I don't care if he is the longest serving in that position he has overseen 3 unmitigated ship disasters, 2 Marine disasters, and done nothing positive.

    Let's drain the swamp, build the wall, and put the swamp critters on the other side of the wall.

    1. Watch this hilarious clip from the movie "Pentagon Wars" about the development of the Bradley.

      It's not completely accurate, but explains why weapons development fails in the Pentagon.

  5. What dose it mean by two-thirds shock, more of the components being actually on the ship or the distance & weight of explosives relative to the ship?

    1. The Navy only ran 2 of the 3 (2/3) events that comprise the full shock trial. They also reduced the magnitude of the explosive charges.

  6. They don't want the real tests to be performed because they know that the LCS would fail them miserably.

    That is basically what it comes down to.

    It's a failure of capitalism. The defense industry wants to maximize its own profit at the expense of the taxpayer. They will lobby if they are broken up or if more stringent contracts are made or if second tier shipyards are given a serious shot to compete.

  7. "It's a failure of capitalism. The defense industry wants to maximize its own profit at the expense of the taxpayer. They will lobby if they are broken up or if more stringent contracts are made or if second tier shipyards are given a serious shot to compete."

    CNO has talked about resurrecting a ship construction board before, I think.

    In the past, hasn't the Navy actually come up with some or most of the design then trot it out to shipyards to see if it can be built?

    I like that idea, at least, because you at least know what you are getting, and given that you did the design yourself have an idea as to what the cost should be.

    1. The first major ship program which the Navy did not design was for the Spruance. On the plus side, farming out the design to industry with just some guiding requirements can allow industry to innovate. On the minus side, there is no guarantee that you'll get a design which is good. For a fantastic discussion of the design/contracting revolution that marked the Spruance, see the book "Electronic Greyhounds" by Michael Potter.

      The problem with the LCS is that not only did the Navy abdicate their design to industry, the industries that did the designs were not experienced navy designers.

  8. One more dumb question... understanding is that the LCS (freedom class) started out as a lighter craft, around 3000 tons, IIRC. If that is the case, has anyone tested the LCS 40 kt sprint speed now that she's ganed 500 tons? Can she make that speed with that additional base weight to the sea frame plus mission modules?

    1. Speed specs have been downgraded. DOT&E has reported on this. Max speed is likely now around 38-40 kts.

    2. If that's the case, then the only tactical advantage the LCS had is gone. You could probably strip down a Burke and get that same speed; drop off the hangerhelo provision, lightweight non-aegis radar suite, 30 VLS array instead of 60, a 76mm instead of a 5"--and still have a decent ship with and better armament than the LCS ever will.

    3. Maybe shallow drought, but that is it.

      Actually, if you think about it, if sustained speed was the goal, a nuclear powered surface ship would be the only real option. They can sustain high speeds, not just use it for short bursts.

  9. We can only hope that Gen Mattis (ret) will realize that he knows little about Acquisition and appoints Franklin Spinney (or someone he suggests) tot eh USD for Acquisition.

  10. I'm thinking that the US not only needs a BuShips, it needs to build at least some of the ships internally.

    There seems to be a lack of understanding of what makes a good ship now, perhaps due to the loss of BuShips and the corruption.

    Serious cost accounting too would be a very good idea. There seems to be a lot of "front loading", understating costs and overstating the ability of new ships or for that matter any weapons system.


Comments will be moderated for posts older than 7 days in order to reduce spam.